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Paul C. Rosenblatt
Author of Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing interviewed 42 bed-sharing couples and reveals his findings.





MARRIAGE STATS
Married: more than 20 years
Kids: 3
Notable: Anyone knows that sharing a bed with your honey can mean warm, intimate moments like falling asleep while spooning. Then there’s also the fun stuff: stealing sheets, bed hogging and yes, even dutch ovens. Paul Rosenblatt, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities has examined all of things, interviewing 42 bed-sharing couples and offering his findings in his book Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing.

[1] What was the most interesting or surprising thing you found in researching for this book? Some couples thought they were still alive because they slept together. For example, one spouse had gone into diabetic shock and the partner realized it and got them apple juice in time. There were two couples where a person was suicidal; one man tied his wrist to her wrist to know if she was getting out of bed. One couple spooned all night and the woman had an undetected neurological disease causing her to seize—her husband instantly reacted because she felt different. The most common lifesaving story is that some people had sleep apnea and the partner could tell them they have it and persuade them to get evaluated.

[2] You interviewed couples ranging in age from 21 to 77. Did you find any comments, issues or thoughts that seemed to be common within certain age groups or in the length of time they’ve been together? People have to learn how to share a bed; it’s not even for romantic reasons. Some have never shared a bed with anybody. You have to know how to live with each other: how do we arrange our bodies, you want the window open, but I like it closed—you have to work it out. New things come up, children come into your life, health problems get more common, body sizes tend to increase. Snoring comes up as a problem for the majority of couples I interviewed. So there’s a lot of changing circumstances couples keep dealing with.

[3] You found that it’s not always this idealized vision of lying in each other’s arms and holding each other as they fall asleep. What is the reality of the situation? TV and movies don’t really show us a lot about what it’s like. It’s different from couple to couple. You can make things romantic, but it can also be a couple going to bed and one farts or one goes to the bathroom for a long while. A lot of nonromantic things like asking, “Did you lock the door” then arguing who should get up to do it. Then there’s snoring, grinding teeth and spouses making strange noises. Who you share your bed with sees a side of you, you might not even see.

[4] You mentioned snoring as a common complaint. No one wants to have to leave the bed, so how do couples deal with snoring without sacrificing sanity and a good night’s rest? It’s not easy, because snorers have no control over it. The couples I interviewed had worked out things, though it can be a struggle. Some snore primarily on their back, so you can roll them on their sides. Some spouses started to wear earplugs to muffle the snores. Some got a bigger bed to have some more distance from the snorer. For one guy, it was a matter of losing just a few pounds. He’d go on a diet and within a week stopped snoring.

[5] Having a TV in the bedroom can be a divisive issue for some couples. Overall did you find having a bedroom TV is okay? It’s really hard to say. For some couples it’s wonderful, they can have very intimate moments. For couples where only one wants to watch, they work out a system. It’s very individual about how sensitive each person is, so I can’t say "yes" or "no."

[6] How does sleeping apart affect couples? When couples that sleep together sleep apart, they usually have problems falling asleep. They’ll try to duplicate the bedtime process. If there is a regular bedtime, they’ll have a conversation, say endearing things, have an argument, whatever they usually do and it seems to be helpful. For some people having the partner’s odor nearby was comforting—they’ll even sleep on the partner’s side of the bed. Though there were some of the people who didn’t have a problem and enjoyed sprawling out on the bed.

[7] With all the problems and personal preferences on how to sleep, why is sleeping together as a couple an important part of marriage? For a lot of couples, the physical, emotional and symbolic intimacy are really important. We’re partnered because we have this connection. We know it because we share this bed, this warmth and breathing—we’re together. That’s an important thing.

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